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The Philadelphia Orchestra on WRTI 90.1: Tilson Thomas Conducts Beethoven's EROICA, Feb. 25 at 1 PM

Credit: Art Streiber
Maestro Michael Tilson Thomas

Join us on Sunday, February 25th from 1 to 3 pm to hear guest conductor Michael Tilson Thomas conduct the Philadelphians in a performance of Beethoven’s Third Symphony, the mighty "Eroica," which proved to be not only a turning point in the composer’s career, but in the history of orchestral music.

This would be the work ushering in Beethoven’s “heroic” middle period, and it shattered all expectations of what a symphony should be!

The young American modernist Ruth Crawford, an admirer of Alban Berg, was 30 years old when she met the Viennese composer, known for his uncanny ability to marry the challenging dissonances of modernism with shards of lyricism and Romanticism. She was composing her haunting Andante for Strings at that time, and the following year would marry the ethnomusicologist Charles Seeger, the father of Pete Seeger.

Our concert broadcast will open with this Ruth Crawford Seeger work, long admired by guest conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, in its first Philadelphia Orchestra performance.

As for Alban Berg himself, his last completed composition is his masterful Violin Concerto, brilliantly combining lush Romanticism with with 12-tone musical techniques pioneered by his teacher Arnold Schoenberg. Baroque music also makes an appearance near the end with the chorale “Es ist genug” or "It Is Enough," which J.S. Bach used in his Cantata No. 60.

WRTI's Debra Lew Harder goes backstage to speak with violinist Leonidas Kavakos.

To perform this deeply felt work is the brilliant violinist Leonidas Kavakos, who has been a regular guest of the Philadelphia Orchestra since making his debut in 1999.The Violin Concerto, written in “memory of an angel,” was composed after the death at age 18 of Alma Mahler Gropius’s daughter Manon, whom Berg obviously dearly loved.

Credit Marco Borggreve
Violinist Leonidas Kavakos

Michael Tilson Thomas, music director of the San Francisco Symphony and founder and artistic director of the New World Symphony, made his Philadelphia Orchestra debut in 1971. He'll return next week to conduct the Philadelphians on March 1, 2, and 3 in Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6 and one of his own works, Four Preludes on Playthings of the Wind.

During intermission, WRTI’s Susan Lewis does some catching up with Maestro Tilson Thomas, and Debra Lew Harder speaks backstage with Leonidas Kavakos.

Not to be missed, that's Seeger, Berg, and Beethoven, conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas on Sunday, February 25th on WRTI 90.1 FM, online at WRTI.org, and on the WRTI mobile app from 1 to 3 pm.

Read detailed program notes from the concert.


Ruth Crawford Seeger: Andante for Strings (first Philadelphia Orchestra performance)

Alban Berg: Violin Concerto

     Leonidas Kavakos, violin


Beethoven: Symphony No. 3, “Eroica”

The Philadelphia Orchestra

     Michael Tilson Thomas, conductor

Gregg Whiteside is producer and host of the Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert broadcasts on WRTI, every Sunday at 1 pm on WRTI 90.1 FM, online at WRTI.org, and on our new mobile app!NEW: rebroadcast of Sunday concerts on Mondays at 7 pm on WRTI HD-2, as part of our new "Symphony at 7" lineup!

Gregg was the host of WRTI's morning drive show from 2012 until his retirement from WRTI in January, 2021. He began producing and hosting The Philadelphia Orchestra In Concert broadcasts in 2013, joining the Orchestra in Hong Kong for the first-ever live international radio broadcasts from that island in 2016, and in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem for two historic broadcasts in 2018. You can still hear Gregg as host of the Orchestra broadcasts every Sunday and Monday on WRTI.